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PORTLAND-The Seattle-based real estate services firm Kidder Mathews is preparing to enter the Portland market in three weeks time, company President/CEO Jeff Lyon tells GlobeSt.com.

The opening of a new market comes as part of a new affiliation for Kidder Mathews, which joined Insignia’s Strategic Services Provider Program in February 2002 and one year later began shopping for a new partner when news got out of Insignia’s merger with CB Richard Ellis, one of Kidder’s chief rivals in the Seattle market. As of Monday, Kidder Mathews is now affiliated with GVA, a Chicago-based international real estate services firm that has had affiliates in San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C. for a while but not in Washington or Oregon until now.

Kidder Mathews is one of the oldest, largest and most productive commercial real estate services firms in the Puget Sound region. The firm has 87 brokers in four offices and 13 appraisers in three offices. Lyons isn’t yet saying where exactly in Portland its fifth office will be located because the lease agreement is still being finalized, but he did say the firm will be located in the CBD and will have room for between 15 and 18 people.

“We’re going to open up an office and see who wants to come join the platform,” says Lyon. “We will be open by week one in August.”

Portland’s equivalent of Kidder Mathews is Norris Beggs & Simpson, a long-time regional firm which has about 55 brokers in two offices in Portland and Vancouver, WA. The firm is affiliated with New America International. Norris, Beggs & Simpson Principal Clayton Hering tells GlobeSt.com he considers Kidder Mathews to be an excellent company with an excellent reputation in the Puget Sound, but says it may have a hard time growing roots in Portland.

“Our personal experience is entering anew market is not easy and I expect they will find that out,” says Hering. “They can’t necessarily transport their culture into this market as easily as they might think; in our experience it was more ego than reality.”

Norris Beggs & Simpson has been trying to build a presence in the Seattle market since the late 1980s. After a decade of little success, the firm made another big push in the late 1990s, but Hering says they ultimately had to give up after spilling “$2 million in blood” on the ground. The firm still keeps a small office in Bellevue, WA, but never achieved the kind of market share it sought.

“We went into Seattle and L.A. and thought ‘NBS has wonderful name and reputation so it should work’ and it just doesn’t happen like that; you still look like an outsider to the locals,” says Hering. “I wish (Kidder Mathews) luck, but I think (Lyons) is a little naïve if he thinks it will happen overnight.”

Other corner-office guys says Kidder, which has been making offers to people they want to lead the new office, will come to town and try to lure a group of performers away from an existing house to kick start their Portland operations. “The problem is nobody wants to be first and everybody will want to know who else is going before making a commitment,” says one senior director in town. “If they don’t get that bang, they’ll have to limp into the market, which doesn’t look good.”

Kidder plays the game a little differently than the national brokerages do. Instead of lower splits and more support, Kidder gives higher splits and less support, local brokers tell GlobeSt.com. Local managers tell GlobeSt.com that Kidder’s easiest entry being to take a group from Insignia, which is being merged into CB Richard Ellis. Instead of coming in below their CBRE counterparts, they may decide to jump ship and join Kidder and other competing firms, they say.

Brad Fletcher, an executive vice president and managing director with Grubb & Ellis in Portland, says Kidder is “a strong group with a solid model and years of successful experience” in the Seattle market. “I expect they will be successful in the Portland market as well,” he adds.

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